Germany arrived in Qatar under immense pressure to avoid a repeat of the 2018 World Cup, in which they failed to advance out of the group stage.
Hansi Flick’s team seized the lead on a penalty kick from Ilkay Gundogan in the first half and should have been out of sight after creating numerous opportunities.
Japan persisted, and replacement Ritsu Doan equalized in the 75th minute.
Eight minutes later, Takuma Asano completed a spectacular reversal by blasting the ball home, sending the Japanese bench and their noisy fans into a frenzy.
Doan and Asano are added to the plot by participating in the German Bundesliga.
“The players came together as a team, we prepared properly, and we didn’t give up,” said Japan manager Hajime Moriyasu. “This is what led to our victory.”
“Many of our followers traveled to Doha, and they pushed us forward. After this, I want us to have a cool head, consider what we may have done better, and focus on winning the next match.”
Germany’s World Cup future is again in jeopardy, with matches against Spain and Costa Rica remaining in Group E.
“We made things too simple for Japan. I’m not aware of a more straightforward World Cup goal ever being scored, “Gundogan told the German ARD television network.
“This cannot occur to us.”
Thomas Mueller told Germany’s Magenta TV that the current situation was “ridiculous.”
— Ashok Swain (@ashoswai) November 23, 2022
Japan, meanwhile, is aiming for a spot in the knockout phase following a remarkable comeback that seemed unlikely at halftime.
The Blue Samurai got off to a good start, with Daizen Maeda putting the ball in the net in the eighth minute, but the linesman called offside.
However, it was a false dawn for Japan when Antonio Ruediger’s header from a corner missed the goal, Joshua Kimmich tested goalkeeper Shuhei Gonda, and Ilkay Gundogan blasted the rebound over the crossbar.
Gundogan battered the Japan goal with attempts, but Gonda denied him before Maya Yoshida blocked another shot with his body.
Gonda fouled David Raum, and as a result, the Germans were awarded a penalty, which Gundogan calmly converted.
At the stroke of halftime, Jamal Musiala displayed his incredible talent as he turned and sent a shot over the crossbar. Before halftime, Kai Havertz had the ball in the net, but VAR disallowed the goal for offside.
After halftime, Musiala tormented Japan by slipping through the defense and scoring a touchdown. The 19-year-old passed the ball to Gundogan, who struck the post with his shot.
Japan introduced dynamic forwards Asano and Kaoru Mitoma to invigorate the four-time Asian champions. Only a series of last-ditch saves from Gonda saved Japan from going farther behind as Germany maintained their assault.
Hiroki Sakai had a fantastic opportunity to equalize, but he blasted the ball over the crossbar after Manuel Neuer deflected it into his path. Minutes later, Doan showed him how it was done by scoring after Neuer saved Takumi Minamino’s shot.
Asano then sent Japanese fans into euphoria by racing away and scoring a goal that Neuer could not stop.
Germany threw everyone forward in a futile attempt to equalize the score, but it was too late.
“It wasn’t just the players who started the game but also the substitutes who came on and helped us close it out,” said Moriyasu.
“We were able to show our strength. The players did what they needed to get the win.”